Followers – 3.5 Stars

by Megan Angelo

Followers is a debut novel by Megan Angelo set to publish on 1/14/2020. The story brushes sci-fi and settles nicely into a post-apocalyptic dystopian set within the United States. Readers follow along between two main characters that are living post and pre “The Spill.” 

Each year, America becomes more and more digitized. Our private information is everywhere online and increases our vulnerability of privacy; the new phenomenon of cyber-terrorism is a legitimate growing concern. This makes The Spill, alarmingly realistic. The themes in this novel explore our obsession with screens, media, follower counts, and fame. The futuristic world that Megan Angelo creates does not feel far out of reach with reality. 

Orla is a young adult living in NYC in 2016, sharing a tiny apartment with a craigslist roommate that is bent on becoming famous. Orla herself has dreams to write a novel yet has been stuck in a rut working for an online blog while making no solid efforts towards securing her hopes of being an author. Orla and her roommate Floss begin to work together to change their fates by using the internet to their advantage. 

Fast forward to 2051 California, and we meet Marlow. Marlow’s world reminds me of a supped-up version the TV show, Big Brother. She lives in a Hollywood run town that literally streams the residents’ lives 24/7, and certain talent, such as Marlow, garner large followings that watch her daily life playout online. Everything is scripted, yet also not. Marlow has an internal device that intuits for her, searches the government ran web when she asks, and lets her silently read her followers comments live. Marlow is one of the network’s best talents, has a following of over twelve million, married, and living a coveted life. However, she feels lost and out of touch with herself. Marlow begins questioning what she really wants and if she would ever be allowed to go off script and just lead a life of her choosing, without having to consider the wishes of her followers or corporate sponsors.  

I thought this was a very impressive debut novel. The characters all had strong voice and the plot moved along at a great pace. At times the story went a little dark and gave me a sense of psychological thriller, which I think was the author’s intent. The political themes shown through brightly, and the last few chapter’s satirical mood was humorous. Though this part did feel a little oversaturated for me, I enjoyed the story as a whole.

My final rating of this book is 3.5 stars, I enjoyed it but didn’t necessarily love it. My motivation to pick this story up each night waned, and with 400+ pages it wasn’t a quick read. The content was so realistic that it didn’t feel like a dystopian world one could escape to but more of an ominous future for our society. The character development was phenomenal, but I never felt emotionally connected to their fates. I liked how their stories wove together and found the ending very fitting and pleasantly unpredictable. I bet this book will be a hot seller for 2020, and definitely one that will garner much discussion! Followers will be a fantastic book club selection with its morally grey themes encircling social media today and the impact it has on those whose lives revolve around it. I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction, with a touch of sci-fi! 

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